The first part of the “Driving Games” series covers the benefits of using technology and games to engage drivers and what types of games are available — see it here. Part 2, below, details how to make game play fair, how to get drivers on board and what type of third-party services are available. Part 3 covers what type of rewards to offer and the social aspect of the competitions. See it here.
2. Fair play
The success of any rewards or incentive program depends on drivers’ perception of the game. Drivers might be skeptical of a fuel incentive based solely on mpg because many factors such as equipment and routes are beyond their control.
Neutralizing the impact of heavy versus light loads, highway versus city mileage, equipment and other factors creates a significant data challenge, says Schrier, explaining why Covenant has not offered a fuel incentive program – at least not yet. Drivers also might feel that fuel incentives have an opportunity cost; slowing down to increase mpg could decrease their mileage and pay.
None of these factors seem to hinder the results of the mpg incentive program created by Mesilla Valley Transport, which boasts one of the country’s highest mpgs among fleets. Several years ago, the Las Cruces, N.M.-based truckload company began offering a Harley Davidson every quarter to the driver with the highest mpg. Besides the grand prize winner, all drivers who are above the company’s target mpg each quarter receive a cash bonus.
Because MVT drivers slip-seat vehicles, getting accurate mpg readings required some work. Mike Kelley, director of information technology, created a way to use drivers’ dispatch data to query the mpg data – vehicle unit, date and time – from its PeopleNet onboard computing and mobile communications system. MVT now has a database of mpg by driver regardless of what vehicle they drive and when.
Every week, MVT sends an automated message to each driver that shows them their mpg ranking. Drivers see where their mpg ranks in their group and in the overall fleet. To qualify for the grand prize and the bonus, drivers also must have a clean compliance record and accept all loads given to them.
One of the advantages of using FuelOpps is that it creates a level playing field for a fuel incentive. The database uses algorithms to measure and benchmark fuel performance in an intuitive way for drivers. Through the online interface, drivers only see the categories of mpg they control directly, such as acceleration, shifting and cruising.
FuelOpps shows drivers their rating by category using a horizontal scale from 1 to 10, as well as their overall FuelOpps rating. While Covenant probably has the IT resources to create a similar type of fuel program, “it would take us forever,” Schrier says.